The old town of Braganca enclosed by the medieval walls

Bragança Municipality says it will save the town’s largest church, which got sold at an auction

Bragança Municipality says it will save the town’s largest church, which got sold at an auction

The unusual sale has stirred controversy in Portugal

Earlier this week, the town of Bragança in Portugal was shocked to hear the news that one of its listed heritage monuments, the medieval church of São Francisco had been sold at an auction so that its owners can pay off accumulated debts to a contractor.

It turned out, however, that the heritage temple was not owned by the Catholic Church but rather by the Franciscan Secular Order, an organization of laypeople with known financial problems for 30 years now.

Developers encroaching on historical heritage

The news has aroused feelings of incredulity among the general public, shocked by the knowledge that a religious and historical property could end up being sold off to private hands. The church itself has fetched 218,000 euros, but it was sold together with another building for a total of 417,000 euros.

What makes things even stranger is that the two buildings form part of a medieval complex, from the 13th century, classified as a Monument of Public Interest, including the Convent of São Francisco, which holds the District Archive of Bragança. The church itself holds a large collection of religious art.

The debts of the Franciscan Secular Order of Bragança, which gave rise to the auctions, dating back to the 1990s, when several restoration interventions and other works began, some financed with public money from programs linked to Culture and the municipality, with support to around 1.5 million euros.

The mayor of the town, Hernâni Dias, regretted the situation and immediately affirmed he will correct the matter, clarifying that he will acquire the properties, exercising the right of preference that the municipality holds.

The expense is not foreseen in the municipal budget for 2022, but the mayor stressed that it is "a one-off situation, but of interest to the municipality", and therefore the financial effort will be made, as reported by Lusa news agency.

Hernâni Dias said that the municipality will keep the properties and already has "some ideas" for their renovation, which he has not yet wanted to say.

He stressed, however, that this is a good time to think about their rehabilitation, taking advantage of the funds from the Portugal 2030 programme.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU